SCHUYLER COUNTY, N.Y. (WETM) – The Schuyler County Legislature will hold a special meeting on Wednesday, September 8 with the purpose of agreeing to the allocation of money the county will receive from a settlement in the opioid crisis.
The agenda says that New York state will receive $229.8 million from pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson after claims that the company contributed to the opioid crisis “by falsely promoting prescription opioids it manufactured and sold and by falsely promoting the increased use of opioids” and failed to “to prevent diversion of prescription opioids in connection with distribution of its products, all of which contributed to a public health crisis in the County”.
The drugmaker also agreed to permanently end the manufacturing and distribution of opioids across New York and the rest of the nation, New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement announcing the settlement.
J&J will pay Schuyler County between $51,893.44 and $121,107 over 10 years as part of that settlement.
The county said the money could be used for several purposes, including supporting law enforcement and first responders, helping pregnant women and their families, treating opioid use disorder, preventing opioid misuse and overdose deaths, as well as other “related efforts”.
The deal involving a lawsuit brought by James in 2019 removes Johnson & Johnson from a trial that is slated to begin next week on Long Island — part of a slew of litigation over an epidemic linked to nearly 500,000 deaths over the last two decades.
In its own statement following the settlement, Johnson & Johnson downplayed the attorney general’s announcement. It said the settlement involved two prescription painkillers — developed by a subsidiary and accounting for less than 1% of the market — that are already no longer sold in the U.S.
The settlement was “not an admission of liability or wrongdoing by the company,” Johnson & Johnson said. It added that its actions “relating to the marketing and promotion of important prescription pain medications were appropriate and responsible.”
The settlement was the latest development in the complicated universe of opioid-related lawsuits across the U.S. that has drawn comparisons to the multistate litigation against tobacco companies in the 1990s. It reflects a path being taken by some big drug companies that see settling as in their best interests, in part because that route would likely not cost as much as losing in court repeatedly.
Johnson & Johnson — along with distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson — made public last year that they were offering a total of $26 billion over 18 years to settle all the cases they face, with the money going to abate the crisis.
The Associated Press contributed to this story